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College Sports, Division III

NCAA Division III Athletics Departments Should Take Note of Committee on Infractions Decision in College of Staten Island Case

On November 21, 2013, the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions (COI) released its report in the case involving the College of State Island. The COI found the institution lacked control over its athletics department and the former head men’s swimming coach failed to follow NCAA ethical conduct legislation. Specifically, the COI found the institution failed to provide adequate NCAA rules education, failed to monitor the recruiting activities of the former coach, failed to monitor the housing arrangements of student-athletes, permitted student-athletes to participate without completing student-athlete statements and provided indirect financial assistance when it gave a private swim club significantly lower rates than published for other organizations.

Additionally, the COI found the former head coach facilitated the visa process for five international prospects, arranged for reduced-cost lifeguard certification classes for three student-athletes, signed leases for four student-athletes and provided cost-free housing for one student-athlete. The COI also determined the former coach provided false or misleading information during the NCAA investigation and advised student-athletes to do the same. 

The penalties, including those self-imposed by the college, include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Four years of probation from November 21, 2013 through November 20, 2017.
  • A four-year show-cause order for the former coach. The public report contains further details.
  • A two-year postseason ban for the men’s swimming team.
  • A vacation of the conference Coach of the Year honors for the former coach from 2007 through 2011 (self-imposed by the college).
  • A vacation of all individual records and performances of six student-athletes from the time they became ineligible for competition through the time their eligibility was reinstated.

In light of this enforcement case, Buckner recommends NCAA Division III institutions take into account the following considerations:

  • Hire or designate at least one full-time experienced athletics administrator to overseeing athletics compliance. This responsibility should be, at a minimum, the administrator’s primary job responsibility. The institution should also create an athletics compliance committee to assist the administrator with athletics compliance oversight. The athletics compliance committee’s composition could include the director of athletics, the faculty athletics representative, the institution’s legal counsel, and select senior institutional administrators.
  • Provide for professional development opportunities relating to athletics compliance for athletics compliance staff members and other institutional staff members whose responsibilities interface with athletics.
  • Provide a direct line of communication between the athletics director and faculty athletics representative with the institution’s president or chancellor.
  • Provide regularly scheduled, mandatory rules-education training to athletics department staff members, coaches, student-athletes and other institutional departments that interface with athletics.
  • Create or update the institution’s athletics compliance manual, athletics compliance website and other athletics compliance documents that are provided to athletics department staff members, coaches, student-athletes and institutional staff members whose responsibilities interface with athletics. Additionally, the athletics compliance manual and the NCAA Division III Manual should be distributed in hard copy to athletics department staff members, coaches and institutional staff members whose responsibilities interface with athletics.
  • Conduct a regular internal review of athletics compliance policies and procedures and rules-education programming to ensure monitoring systems are operating effectively, and institutional staff members, coaches and student-athletes have a proper understanding of NCAA legislation.
  • Retain an experienced firm to conduct an athletics compliance audit regularly (at least once every four years).

The full report can be found here.

 

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)

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